Football: Inna Palacios reflects on reviving La Salle’s winning culture — ‘Quite a journey’

Martin Javier

Posted at Jun 09 2020 09:25 PM | Updated as of Jun 09 2020 09:29 PM

Football: Inna Palacios reflects on reviving La Salle’s winning culture — ‘Quite a journey’ 1
National goalkeeper Inna Palacios says she is proud to have played a part in returning La Salle’s women’s football program to its old glory. Courtesy of PFF/file

At 26, women’s national football team captain Inna Palacios has already compiled quite a career on the pitch.

In her earlier years, she won numerous MVP trophies and individual awards. She has also been a staple of the national team since she was 13. 

But no accolade could compare to her final collegiate season, the one that gave La Salle back the championship after a long drought. 

Its value, though, goes far beyond receiving a trophy and getting recognition. For her, it was both an end and a beginning, the perfect conclusion of a decorated UAAP career and the start of something bigger for the program.

“My favorite part in UAAP is probably when we won the Season 79 championship for one of many reasons. La Salle then had so many challenges so seeing the team at its lowest to achieving the championship was quite a journey for me,” the 4-time UAAP best goalkeeper said in an interview on ABS-CBN Sports’ “UpFront.”

Palacios was referring to La Salle’s 7-year struggle before reaching the pinnacle again. According to her, they had to go through a lot of challenges, including a couple of finals appearances, before winning it all. 

“They didn’t have it (championship) for a while. Actually, they were really trying. So in my first year, actually, we were in the finals. And then after that, drought na. So it was my first (year) and and then my fourth year we lost in the finals. And then my fifth year. That was when we got it na,” she recalled.

In her last game, the stars aligned and created one of the best moments in UAAP women’s football — Inna scored a goal via penalty to seal the championship, ending her career in style.

That title reinstated the program’s winning tradition and signaled the start of a new Lasallian dynasty in women’s football. In the past few seasons, the Green and White has dominated the pitch, winning three straight championships in the UAAP. This helped them surpass Far Eastern University to become the winningest team in the league with 11 titles. 

 National team stint

After an exceptional collegiate career, Palacios has continued her football journey with the national squad. 

Since joining at such a young age, she’s had a lot of opportunities to represent the country in international tournaments. Her greatest highlights? The qualifying tournament for World Cup qualifiers back in 2017, and the 2018 Women’s AFC Asian Cup. 

“Just experiencing the World Cup qualifiers, being with top teams in Asia. I think that’s forever I’ll have in me. And ’yun, sana hopefully, while I’m still playing we’ll get to the World Cup,” she said.

In their most recent battle, the Malditas won the hearts of many when they played “all out” in front of the home crowd in the Southeast Asian Games last December. 

They came close to bagging a medal, too. Up until the 78th minute of the bronze medal match against Myanmar, Palacios and co. were poised to make a trip to the podium, but two late goals changed the complexion of the game and snatched away their chances. It would have been the Philippines’ first SEA Games medal in women’s football since 1985. 

As heartbreaking as it was, the talented goalie looks ahead with a lot of optimism for the team. 

“Next time you’re gonna see us, hopefully we’re still gonna be intact as a team. And from the SEA Games, we’ll bounce back stronger,” she assured. 

As the captain, Palacios knows that they’re serving a bigger purpose every time they represent the flag. 

“I’ll add to, like, my favorite part — when you’re playing and then you sing your national anthem before every game — I think that one is . . . Parang it makes you feel so proud na you’re Filipino,” she said. 

“And I think, whenever we get to sing our national anthem right before a big game, everything that happens in the pitch, is just parang all out. Like it’s how you serve your country. Well I think of it like that.” 

With her leadership, it’s no coincidence that the team continues to reach greater heights. The amount of success she’s had suggests that more is in store. Who knows? That ultimate goal may be just be right around the corner. We all just have to wait and see.

Watch the full interview here:

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